Knee Exercises – Before Your Joint Replacement Surgery

Former patient, Chris Simons, demonstrates the required exercises needed before your knee replacement surgery. He credits his recovery to not only the care he received from his Washington University orthopedic physician, but to the vigorous rehab schedule that he followed. For more information about joint preservation, resurfacing, and replacement at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, visit:

Do each exercise 10 times, twice a day. If any exercise is painful, don’t do it. Exercise may be hard, but it should not be painful.

Chair Push-ups
• Sit on the edge of a firm, solid chair that has sturdy armrests.
• Extend your legs so that there is a slight bend in your outstretched legs.
• Place your hands on armrests so that there is bend in your elbows.
• Slowly lift your bottom from the seat using only your arms while straightening your elbows and pushing the shoulders down.
• Do not stand up. Only lift your bottom from the seat.
• Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

Straight Leg Raises (Leg Lifts)
• Lie on your back, with your surgical leg straight, the other leg bent.
• Slightly roll your surgical knee outward.
• Tighten your thigh muscle, and lift your surgical leg off the bed so it’s as high as your other leg.
• Keep your knee straight and rolled out while lifting and lowering it.
• Slowly lower your leg to the bed.

Short Arc Quads (Mini Kicks)
• Lie on your back in bed.
• Place a firm roll approximately 8 to 10 inches in diameter such as a pillow, a large coffee can or an unopened 2 liter bottle of soda with a towel wrapped around it under your knee so that there is a slight bend in the knee. Make sure your leg is relaxed on the roll.
• Slowly lift the foot from the bed and straighten your bent knee. Only straighten your knee, do not life your entire leg off your supporting surface.
• Hold straight for 5 seconds, then slowly lower the foot back down to the surface and relax.
• Like with all of the exercises, please be sure you are not holding your breath. Your opposite leg may be relaxed in a comfortable position of your choosing.

Knee Range of Motion-sitting position
• Sit in a chair so that your feet barely touch the floor. If you’re tall, you may need to first
put 1 or 2 pillows on the seat of the chair.
• Use the knee that you’ll have surgery on.
• Bend the knee as far as you can.
• Then straighten the knee as much as you can.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Physicians are your partners in your journey to lead you back to a healthier lifestyle with your new joint. To schedule an appointment with a Washington University orthopedic physician, visit:


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